Al-Hakim Seeks Constraints on Awakening Councils

The USG Open Cource Center translates portions of the Friday Prayer sermon of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI). Al-Hakim said he wanted to limit the Sunni Arab ‘Awakening Councils’ so that they did not become an independent force in their own right. He wants to see such tribal levies set up only in ‘hot zones’ (i.e. Sunni Arab regions, not the calmer Shiite regions. [In the latter, they might compete with al-Hakim’s own paramilitary, the Badr Corps.]) He also calls on the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fundamentalist) to rejoin the al-Maliki cabinet. Excerpts:

Round-up of Iraqi Friday Sermons 21 Dec; Al-Iraqiyah Carries Al-Hakim’s Sermon
Iraq — OSC Summary
Saturday, December 22, 2007

‘. . . In his second 13-minute sermon, Al-Hakim says: “Today, we are experiencing very delicate circumstances. Our dealing with them will determine the future of Iraq and its sons. These circumstances are not less delicate and important than all the historical events over the past few years. Praise be to Almighty God, through the great sacrifices that the Iraqis have made, we have accomplished the mission of building the Iraqi state and its political system on firm foundations. These foundations include the constitution, which guarantees equality and justice for all. These all include national participation by everyone, the elections, the freedom of expression, pluralism, and the recognition of the rights of others. Thus, we got rid once and for all, God willing, of dictatorship and sectarian and ethnic discrimination.

Today, we also have great missions ahead of us that are not less important than all the previous missions. These missions include the independence of Iraq. We mean the full and real independence, which will be gained by liberating Iraq from Chapter Seven; ending the UN Security Council’s mandate on our country, its destiny, and resources; and drafting the security agreement with America, which is the agreement that will define the role of the multinational forces in Iraq. Consequently, this agreement will contribute to liberating it from the mandate of Chapter Seven. This agreement should safeguard the brave Iraqi people’s rights on all levels and achieve full sovereignty.”

Al-Hakim adds: “Much progress has been made on the security level in Baghdad and in entire Iraq. Everyone admits this. This is a vital and important issue that will positively affect all walks of life in all Iraq. However, I must warn that this progress must not mislead us to the point that makes our security forces and citizens relinquish caution and seriousness about confronting the possible security dangers posed by the circles of plotting against Iraq and the Iraqis here and there. We have made dear sacrifices for the sake of what has been achieved, and we should work to protect the lives of citizens from the tampering of the criminal ones. In this regard, we highly value the role that is being played by our armed forces of the army and the police as well as the awakening (forces), tribes, and the popular and regional committees in Iraq in pursuing terrorism and criminals. This is particularly true since they play an honorable national role and express the unity of the Iraqis in the face of Iraq’s enemies. At the same time, we stress the need that these awakening forces should help and support the Iraqi Government in pursuing the criminals and terrorists, but they should not be an alternative to it. We also stress the need for balance in building these awakening forces, particularly in the places that have a mixed population, and say that they should be in the hot areas only, especially since weapons should be in the hand of the government only. Everyone should deal with this issue based on national interests, provided that this is in the interest of everyone.”

He says: “For the sake of making progress in the political process, we stress the need for making efforts to persuade the sides that withdrew from the government to return to it; expedite the completion of the formation of the cabinet; rely on competence and experience in choosing the ministers and officials; and prepare to establish the regions in Iraq after the expiry of the legal period, particularly the south Baghdad region.”

He adds: “The file of development and reconstruction, the rendering of services, paying attention to the citizens’ interests, granting powers to the governorates in accordance with the constitution, fighting financial and administrative corruption, and reactivating the role of the Integrity (Commission), independent judiciary, and the laws issued by the Iraqi Council of Representatives should move in parallel with the efforts being exerted on the security level, taking into consideration that they contribute to consolidating the state of law and to fighting terrorism.”

He says: “I call on the Iraqi Government to pay more attention to the poor social classes, the teachers, and the families of martyrs and prisoners; to return the displaced to their residential areas; to release the detainees who were not convicted; and to take care of the state’s low-salary employees and provide them with the means of honorable living. I call on the government to set a fair wage scale for all state employees and to standardize this scale within the technical bases that guarantee justice for all. I also call on the government to expedite the implementation of the strategic laws that were issued by the Council of Representatives, such as the Investment Law on which more than a year has passed without implementation, something which has prevented Iraq in general and the Iraqi governorates (in particular) from benefiting from this law in building Iraq and achieving its progress and development. I also call on the government to study the reasons behind the ministries’ failure to spend the budgets allocated for the governorates and to adopt a clear and an unwavering stand toward the incompetent ministers, expose them to the people, and isolate them, especially since they harm the people’s interests.”

Al-Hakim says: “In light of the great improvement in the security situation in the country, we call for making 2008 the year of reconstruction and development in Iraq. We call on all merchants, companies, and investment bodies in the world to contribute to the reconstruction and services campaign and to strengthening the Iraqi economy.”

He says: “While we are approaching the time of holding the governorates elections in 2008, God willing, we stress the need to build the structure of the Higher Independent Election Committee in accordance with the provisions of the constitution which guarantee fairness, transparency, neutrality, and competence. We also call for complying with the constitution and the powers it has guaranteed for the governorates in order to build the decentralized state and enable these governorates to play their national role in building Iraq and serving their citizens. All this should be within the constitutional framework. I also reiterate my previous calls for rebuilding the shrine of the two Al-Askari imams, may God’s peace be upon them, in Samarra, especially since this is an issue of interest to all Muslims in general and the followers of Al Al-Bayt (Shiites) in particular, and taking into consideration that this shrine plays a role in achieving national unity and reconciliation. On the external level, we believe that it is necessary to start implementing the regional partnership strategy through Iraq’s participation in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and by expanding it to include all the region’s countries.”

He adds: “Finally, as you may know, a week from now, we will celebrate the day of the glorious (Pledge) of Al-Ghadir, (Shiites believe that having finished his hajj to Mecca, Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessing be upon him, returned to Medina and the great multitude of Muslims went back with him. At Ghadir Khum, the brook of Khum, somewhere on his way to Medina, he received God’s order to appoint Imam Ali Bin-Abi-Talib as his successor and the commander of the faithful after him) the day of imamate and sovereign power, when the honorable believers, as usual, will go to visit the shrine of Imam Ali Bin-Abi-Talib, may God’s peace be upon him, in Al-Najaf al-Ashraf. Therefore, we recommend that they renew the pledge for their imam and religious authority, which is an extension to the imamate; comply with the law and order; and help the competent agencies so that the rituals will take place in an atmosphere of faith and brotherhood. I pray to Almighty God to have mercy on the martyrs of Iraq, particularly the two Al-Sadr martyrs and Shahid al-Mihrab, Al-Sayyid Al-Hakim, may God sanctify their secrets; to protect our great religious authorities, particularly Imam Al-Sayyid Al-Sistani, may God prolong his tall shadow; to grant success to our government; and to grant us all good things and blessings and guide us on the path of worshipping Him. He is the All-hearing and listens to the prayer of every supplicant. May God protect Iraq and its people and save us from misfortunes. May God’s peace and blessing be upon you.” ‘